Rehearsals have just begun for Utopia, Limited, which is the spring production by the MIT Gilbert & Sullivan Players. Utopia is one of the least well known operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan, and now that I've started working with the show, I can see why. In spite of its flaws, however, it's striking for its topicality. Unlike many of their shows, Utopia's themes, including globalization and corporatization, are significant issues today, and I find them relevant to my business plans.
In Utopia, Limited, the residents of the Pacific island of Utopia have decided to model their society after England, which represents the perfect culture to them. As they go, they take the opportunity to improve upon England's practices as they see fit, generally taking things too far. They apply the concept of the Limited Liability Company to anything and everything, including the country itself. By the beginning of the second act, "every man, woman, and child is now a Company Limited with liability restricted to the amount of his declared Capital," as one character says. The king avoids execution by explosion because corporations cannot be blown up, and he is now a corporation. Similarly, everyone has reported their declared capital as 18 pence, and so merely declare bankruptcy when their bills arrive.
My first thought when reading this was that this is precisely what I was thinking when I proposed republishing out-of-print works that are still protected by copyright. In that case it wouldn't work and the operators of the company would still be subject to potential jail time, which may indicate that our business laws haven't gotten as completely out of control as in Utopia, Ltd. On the other hand, incorporating is still part of my business strategy, so that if things go poorly and my company is unable to pay its bills, hopefully the financial impact upon myself will be contained. At this stage, my understanding of these business issues is more theoretical than practical, but it's one of the things I need to get up to speed on.